Leveraging Technology for Empowerment in South Africa

Leveraging Technology for Empowerment in South Africa

Many grassroots, women-led buyback centers, and informal waste workers are frequently unbanked. Their earnings are largely unseen and unrecorded, which makes it difficult to access financial and other services. From 2021 to 2022, The Coca‑Cola Foundation funded “Project UP”— led by PETCO, a Producer Responsibility Organization in South Africa with extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes for PET bottles and Liquid Board Packaging —to help buyback centers and informal waste workers gain greater transaction transparency.

Through a digital platform developed by BanQu, buyback centers, and informal waste workers receive verified proof of transaction through a text message receipt and a digital record of the income earned through sales to various buyback centers. The system is also a business management tool that enables buyback center owners real-time access to the amount of material on-site.

Over the long term, the goal is for these critical workers to access additional financial services through technology-led solutions and for the industry to adopt an evidence-based approach to integrate the informal sector.

Impacts at a glance*:

- 104 buyback centers onboarded

- 8,801 informal waste collectors registered

- 8,695 tons of recyclable materials recorded 

*Data gathered between October 13, 2021–September 30, 2022.

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